A blow to swimmers

July 23, 2008
Anne Kallin

Re: WLU pool closing

My heart sank when I read the recent headline about the closing of the Wilfrid Laurier University pool.

My son swims with the Region of Waterloo Swim Club (ROW) and so has spent considerable time training and at swim meets in this pool. The arrangement with WLU seems to have worked very well, the WLU students working as lifeguards and office staff have been friendly and helpful, and visiting swim clubs attending weekend meets hosted by ROW have enjoyed coming to WLU and to Waterloo.

We parents were told a few weeks ago that suddenly the pool needed immediate repairs, and I understand that since then ROW and head coach Dean Boles have been working hard to find a solution.

I must say I am surprised that WLU does not have a contingency fund set aside for pool repairs, especially since the Laurier pool is used constantly by the university, by ROW swimmers — which includes several hundred swimmers ranging in age from the very young to the more experienced — and by other aquatic groups such as water polo and synchronized swimming.

I have always been dismayed by the fact that Laurier's pool is the only Olympic-sized pool in this entire region — Olympic-sized meaning a 50-metre pool. By comparison, there are many Olympic-sized hockey rinks in this region. It's great that there are many hockey players and skaters making use of these ice pads, but all the community pools in the region also have very full schedules. While not everyone has Olympic aspirations, ROW produces many swimmers each year who qualify for regional, provincial and national swim meets, as well as swimmers who receive university scholarships for swimming.

Anne Kallin

One fine swim club

July 22, 2008
Tom Fuke

Re: WLU swimming pool

As an alumni of the swimming program at Wilfrid Laurier University and of the Region of Waterloo ( ROW ) Swim Club, I am surprised and disappointed to find out that the University of Waterloo is denying ROW much needed pool space during its time of need.

With the WLU pool in need of repair, I would have thought that the athletic partnerships between UW and WLU (sharing Seagram Stadium, for example) would have extended to the use of the pool.

The ROW Swim Club has provided UW with many of its star swimmers over the years, including current Olympian Keith Beavers. Something doesn't add up.

I question UW's motives behind this decision, and hope that the UW athletic department will reconsider its position.

Tom Fuke

A disappointing time

July 19, 2008
Matthew Mains

Re: Swimming pool controversy

I was surprised and disappointed to read of the rumours surrounding the pool upgrade at the University of Waterloo .

I swam for the University of Waterloo from 2000 to 2005, and swam frequently with the Region of Waterloo ( ROW ) swim club. I continued to do so after graduating, before retiring this April. In my years with ROW , I grew close to the Laurier community.

The people I worked with during these years were focused on developing well-rounded swimmers, and providing swimmers with every opportunity to achieve their potential. There was a strong relationship between the organizations, the coaches and the members of each team.

Currently, this type of relationship exists between individual swimmers and coaches, who co-operate to help swimmers excel, provide and develop leadership and promote athlete development and high performance.

This sort of co-operation provided me with a realistic opportunity of making two Olympic teams in 2004 and 2008.

It seems that the University of Waterloo athletic administration has been quick to overlook this strong relationship, built through years of co-operation and success. My long-term concern is that this short-sighted decision will split the swimming community irreparably, limiting our ability to develop athletes with the capacity to achieve their potential. It will deny young local swimmers the role models from the university system, a role I enjoyed during my years at the Region of Waterloo swim club, as I established strong relationships with the younger swimmers, and was given an opportunity to help shape their development and provide leadership.

It is my hope that the swimming organizations of UW, WLU and ROW can remain as a strong swimming community, focused on athlete and personal development, setting an example for other communities with multiple organizations. Communication is a vital aspect to this co-operation, and I encourage all parties to work together to maintain Waterloo Region's commitment to helping swimmers of all levels achieve their potential.

Matthew Mains

UW should reveal its pool plans now

July 18, 2008
The Record

From the waters of Wilfrid Laurier University 's 50-metre pool have come Olympic gold, silver, bronze — and some of the finest swimmers to ever represent Canada . But along with the pride that is felt next month when two athletes who trained in this pool compete at the Beijing Olympics, there will be deep sadness.

Just days after the nation cheers on Waterloo residents Keith Beavers and Jessica Tuomela, the pool that helped them get to the Games, and the only facility of its kind in Waterloo Region, will close. The only thing that can save it is $1.5 million to pay for badly needed repairs. And that's $1.5 million Laurier doesn't have.

Considering the storied history of this pool, the enormous stature of the swimmers who have trained here, and the value of the local swimming community to Canadian sports, it should be possible, even now, to save the facility. But it's not that easy.
The situation is complicated by the possibility that a new multimillion-dollar state-of-the-art aquatic complex could open a stone's throw away at the University of Waterloo . A lot of rumours are swirling around out there. But the University of Waterloo 's incoming athletics director, Bob Copeland won't say what's going on.

His response is inadequate, even though Copeland may not be free to say more. With its two universities, one of Canada 's best colleges, and the first-rate Region of Waterloo swim club, this area has an obvious need for an Olympic-class pool. It probably doesn't need two.

The powers at Laurier could decide to cover the cost of $1.5 million in repairs through fundraising. Conversely, they might decide that the best long-term solution is to somehow find $20 million to replace the 35-year-old pool. But they can't make a proper decision on what to do with their pool until they fully understand what might be built across University Avenue at UW.

Fairness as well as the needs of the community demand that all the cards — or more accurately the preliminary blueprints — appear on the table. What is going on at the University of Waterloo ? Is it looking to build anything? If so, what and when? And could the Region of Waterloo swim club eventually find a home there?

This region, with its own club and the Laurier pool, has already placed so many names on the who's-who list of Canadian swimmers. Laura Nicholls, Jen Button, Mike West and, of course, the legendary Victor Davis, who won a gold and two silver medals at the 1984 Games. It can, in all likelihood, do more. But it needs the right pool. And the right plan that the public can endorse. Let's have both.

Make room for ROW

July 16, 2008
Angus Cunningham

Re: Rumours Swirl Around UW Pool Upgrade — July 9

I found the comments at the end of this article quite amazing in that no pool time at the University of Waterloo would be available to the Region of Waterloo ( ROW ) swim club due to varsity and new club activity.

ROW is a longtime and prominent local sports club in the community which time and again has produced Olympic team members. ROW is one of the most respected swim clubs in the province and is well known across Canada . With the problems at the Wilfrid Laurier University pool, and in a time of need for ROW , to be denied help due to "new club activity" is a totally unacceptable position for any athletic program to take, especially when there is no approved "new club" at this time. There must be some special terms for such "new club" if they can be influential in denying ROW any chance of time at the UW pool.

We have a shortage of pool space in the region and I find it beyond belief that there is no room or desire for accommodation for one of the most established swim clubs in the province. I hope UW realizes the situation and reconsiders their position.

Angus Cunningham

Pool should be shared

July 15, 2008
Tracy Judges

Re: Rumours Swirl Around UW Pool Upgrade — July 9

I understand that the University of Waterloo has granted limited pool time to the Wilfrid Laurier University swim team for next season, but has denied access to Region of Waterloo ( ROW ) swim club.

I question why UW would not reach out to assist the ROW swim club in its time of need. This denial would include ROW swimmer (and UW alumni) Keith Beavers, who will be representing Canada at the Olympics.

Cross co-operation has always been beneficial to both universities in the past. For example, UW swimmer Oleg Chernukhin trained and travelled with ROW in preparation for the Olympic trials.

What is UW's real motive in denying the swim club access to unused pool space? Would the community not benefit if UW and WLU co-operated in the building a of shared facility?

The economic spinoffs are vast by hosting "sporting events" for the community.

Tracy Judges

Sport rules inconsistent

December 31, 2007
Jo-Anne Cunningham

In response to Waterloo Region District School Board trustee Ted Martin's Dec. 27 opinion piece, Male Hockey Players Suffer Discrimination, Martin is inaccurate in his reference to swimmer Ross Bennett in connection with competition in the Waterloo County Secondary School Athletic Association (WCSSAA).

Martin used swimming as an example of a sport where the highest level swimmers may still compete against less experienced high school swimmers. This is untrue. The competition is divided into the "open" category (swimmers who compete with a club) and "high school" (swimmers who don't compete outside of school). The qualifying times are different and based on provincial standards for club swimmers. As such, Bennett won three gold medals competing against the same swimmers he competes against at the provincial and national levels — an impressive feat.

Like myself, and others across this region, Martin would have had a challenge deciphering the many inconsistent rules surrounding high school sports. Although relatively new to coaching at the high school level, I have been dismayed each year by rules that seem to work against students and differ from sport to sport.

While every sport has different needs, the same issue exists in all sports. From the track and field competitor who competes at the club level, to basketball and volleyball players who compete across the province, there should be equality in the way that club competitors are treated within high school sports.

The goal of the WCSSAA is the promotion of equity and fair play at the high school level. This could be better achieved by creating consistent rules for all sports and acknowledging the need for individual assessment of unique situations. Changes mid-season, such as the one that sidelined Bluevale hockey player Laura MacIntosh, would not occur if the same rules applied to all players.

Jo-Anne Cunningham

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